COVID-19 has left a mark on every industry, including food and beverage. Through it all, we’ve seen that adapting to existing conditions is essential, but the question on every mind was, and still is: should companies continue to invest in innovation? The answer is a resounding yes.
Uncertainty has shifted focus to near constant adjustment, but exclusive short-term focus can threaten long-term growth and survival. Planned resets are largely on hold and e-commerce is on the rise, causing a narrowing of on-shelf options, and while the industry will likely be forever changed, many behaviors and patterns will return to close to where they were before March 2020. The innovation and commercialization process takes time. Stopping now just means your tank will be dry in a year, making it critical to keep moving forward.
So, with everything in flux around you, how do you keep innovation top of mind?
First, embrace the vanguard of innovation — foodservice, in whatever forms it can take. Once defined by the combination of food, service and place, the dining experience now more than ever can provide the distraction and recreation that consumers need. Take advantage of creative menu resets to provide variety and valuable feedback for off-premise success.
Second, rethink avenues of new product discovery. Before the pandemic hit, brands of all sizes enjoyed a steadily increasing number of paths to product trial and consumer engagement. Now, safety and value are top of mind. Where and how people are browsing, discovering and trying new products is changing. How will you curate the trial experience? Leverage digital substitutes for in-store opportunities, including partnerships and collateral.
Next, be sure to build a bridge for safe experimentation. Establish a core set of flavors and product lines that align with consumer expectations, supplemented with a handful of adventurous alternatives. These new ideas, however, should still be in line with your established brand positioning. This gives consumers a reasonable entry point for your brand while allowing for unique positioning with one-of-a-kind experiences.
Last, prepare for newly abandoned territory and competitive response, especially for emerging brands. Opportunity won’t be around for long as bigger brands work to take back leadership. Take advantage of the renewed attention to reach new audiences and secure loyalty. Also, be sure to nurture relationships with key partners.
From kick off to launch, every step should have a clear purpose that will lead to market. Speed and quality are important during this time, and existing innovation processes may need reconsideration to fit the current environment. The opportunity is there, but are you willing and able to do the work to seize it?
Led by a team of CPG veterans, JPG Resources is a food & beverage innovation and operations consultancy based in Battle Creek, Michigan, where it has established a track record of building ideas into thriving food businesses. With a team of more than 40 food & beverage diehards, JPG creates positive business outcomes for disruptive startups to the most trusted global CPG brands.
In response to the economic hardship resulting from COVID-19, governments at all levels have tried to provide relief to businesses. The Federal government, through a series of acts, passed stimulus and relief packages in excess of $2.5 trillion dollars with the focus on preserving jobs and maintaining economic activity. Additionally, Illinois and Chicago have made relief available to impacted businesses
Federal Programs: Payroll Tax Relief
Deferral of Employer Payroll Taxes: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) allows for deferral of the employer share of Social Security taxes owed in 2020 (including the share owed by self-employed individuals), with the deferred amount to be paid over the following two years, half by December 31, 2021 and the other half by December 31, 2022. The payroll taxes that can be deferred are those incurred during the period beginning on the CARES Act’s date of enactment and ending before January 1, 2021.
Federal Programs: Income Tax Relief
Tax Due Date: The federal tax due date for returns due April 15, 2020, including related payments and estimated payments, was postponed to July 15, 2020.
Net Operating Loss Carrybacks: This provision reverses restrictions on businesses’ use of losses enacted as part of the TCJA. Those changes amended section 172 to limit taxpayers’ ability to carry back a Net Operating Loss (“NOL”) and introduced an 80% limitation on NOL carryforwards. The CARES Act allows for a 5-year carryback of NOLs arising in tax years beginning in 2018, 2019, or 2020 and temporarily removes the 80% of taxable income limitation.
Pass-Through Business Losses: Section 461(l) was enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), limiting the ability of individuals (and sole proprietors) from claiming excess business losses beginning in 2018. The CARES Act modifies the loss limitation rule, thereby reinstating taxpayers’ ability to deduct excess business losses attributable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietorships for tax years 2018-2020.
Acceleration of AMT Credit: The TCJA repealed the corporate AMT, but allowed corporate AMT credits to continue to be utilized, spread over several years ending in 2021. The CARES Act allows taxpayers to accelerate their ability to claim AMT credits into 2018 and 2019, or to make an election to claim the entire amount in 2018.
Increase in Taxable Income Threshold for Deducting Interest Expense: The TCJA vastly expanded the restrictions on deductibility of business interest expense, generally limiting it to 30% of taxable income (broadly defined). The CARES Act raises the threshold to 50% for 2019 and 2020 for taxpayers other than partnerships. The change can adversely impact taxpayers that may be subject to other loss limitation provisions, such as BEAT. The CARES Act allows taxpayers to elect out of the increased limitation. The act does not adjust the limitation for partnerships, but does increase the limitation at the partner level in a complex manner. 50% of a partner’s suspended excess interest expense allocated to them for 2019 can be fully utilized, while the remaining 50% is subject to TCJA-enacted rules applicable to partner excess interest expense. A partner can choose to elect out of the new rule.
Retail Glitch: A well-known drafting error in the TCJA classified qualified improvement property as 39-year property when it was intended to be treated as 15-year property. The CARES Act corrects this oversight by defining qualified improvement property as 15-year property. This means that qualified improvement property will now be eligible for bonus depreciation and a shorter recovery period. This provision is effective for property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, thus affording taxpayers the ability to amend prior year returns.
Accelerating Loss Deductions to Prior Years: Pursuant to IRC section 165(i), taxpayers may elect to deduct certain losses attributable to a federally declared disaster in the “[…] taxable year immediately preceding the taxable year in which the disaster occurred.” In the past, generally, taxpayers deducting section 165(i) losses had tangible damage corresponding with their losses - i.e., a storm visibly damaging a building’s walls and infrastructure. With respect to coronavirus losses, although they seemingly qualify for section 165(i) relief, it may be difficult ultimately linking them to the coronavirus, because in many cases there is no visible, outward damage. Coronavirus may not be the only event which led to a taxpayer’s losses, so parsing out which losses qualify will be a nuanced task.
Enhanced Charitable Deduction for Food Donations: The enhanced tax deduction, subject to certain criteria, provides an extra incentive for food donation by allowing the donating business to deduct the lesser of (a) twice the basis value of the donated food or (b) the basis value of the donated food plus one-half of the food’s expected profit margin (if the food were sold at its fair market value). Charitable contribution deductions are limited to 25% of taxable income from corporations.
Federal Programs: Loan Programs
Paycheck Protection Program: The CARES Act establishes a new Paycheck Protection Program to let small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals seek loans through the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) 7(a) loan program. The program, plus subsequent updates, authorizes $659 billion in total 7(a) lending from February 15 through August 8 for fiscal year 2020. Recipients can use the loans to cover eligible payroll costs -- including salaries, commissions, regular paid leave, and health-care benefits -- as well as mortgage interest and utility payments. Recipients must make a “good faith certification” that they will use the funds to retain workers, maintain payroll, and pay for rent and similar expenses. The SBA allows deferment payments until the date on which the amount of forgiveness is determined under section 1106 of the CARES Act is remitted to the lender. Recipients of SBA-guaranteed loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) can apply for loan forgiveness over either eight weeks or 24 weeks for eligible payroll costs and for mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments.
Main Street Lending Program: The Main Street Lending Program is a new offering created by the Federal Reserve to help businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and accompanying economic downturn. It is a great alternative to the PPP, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Express Bridge Loan program. Note that companies that have already applied to the PPP are also eligible for loans through the Main Street Lending Program.
The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) will waive penalties and interest for out of-state employers who fail to withhold Illinois income taxes for employees, where the sole reason for the withholding obligation is that the employee is working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IDOR is following the federal government in providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for Illinois income tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. This filing and payment relief includes: The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Illinois income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This does not impact the first and second installments of estimated payments for 2020 taxes that are due April 15 and June 15. Taxpayers are required to estimate their tax liability for the year and make four equal installments. Taxpayers will not be assessed a late estimated payment penalty if the amount of the installments equals 90% or more of the current year’s liability or 100% of the previous year’s liability.
The Department of Revenue is to defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants. Eating and drinking establishments that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year will not be charged penalties or interest on late payments due in March, April or May.
Chicago has extended the payment due dates for Amusement, Bottled Water, Checkout Bag, Ground Transportation, Hotel Accommodation, Parking, and Restaurant taxes for the periods of July 2019 through September 2020.
If you need help navigating through these complexities, please reach out to your trusted advisor. Or, click here to learn more about Mazars USA LLP.
COVID-19 is pushing Chicago food producers to find much higher-quality, cleaner spaces than ever before. Right on time, Amped Kitchens—a pioneer in top-grade, wholesale-quality kitchen complexes—is unveiling 64 new production spaces for lease on the Northwest side of Chicago. Wholesale packaged goods producers, restaurant commissaries, meal delivery companies and other developing segments can now find dedicated, flexible, high-capacity spaces that provide the quality and amenities of much large spaces.
Amped’s latest location represents a nearly-$30 million investment, converting a former Zenith factory into a bustling food production complex. The approximately 110,000 square foot building will support an estimated 250 jobs. Brian Albert, co-founder and COO of Amped Kitchens, says building community and providing jobs is core to the Amped Kitchen’s business model. Amped Kitchens operates two facilities of similar scale and size in Los Angeles, and Chicago marks the first location outside of California. It “reflects our optimism around Chicago as one of the country’s great food cities and a home for some of the most creative chefs and innovative food makers.”
The new facility is located just minutes from major centers, including Logan Square and Oak Park. “Think of it as an apartment building for commercial food producers,” says Mott Smith, Amped Kitchen’s CEO and co-founder. “We provide the infrastructure, facilities and expertise needed by producers so they can focus on the business of producing, marketing and delivering their product safely and efficiently. Tenants will be surrounded by some of the best food producers in the country, and our team of professionals will be on the ground day one to help support their needs.”
To learn more about Amped Kitchens or to set up a tour (or video walk-through) please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It was only when the disruption came in and said, no you can’t do it your normal way, you have to find a new one, people decided wow, the new way is best. How many everyday things do we do, that if we were forced to do it differently, we would never go back.” – Tom Harford 2016 TED Talk
Keren Novak, VP of Client Services in the Midwest, opened Curion’s first Consumer Pulse webinar with a quote from the 2016 London Underground Strike. The 48-hour underground closure forced millions of London commuters to deviate from their normal routes, but after the strike ended, many realized how enjoyable they were and continued using their newly found alternative routes. The radical effect of COVID-19 on the lifestyles of consumers will change future behavior. Through the Consumer Pulse Series, Curion strives to keep a finger on consumers’ ever-evolving decision-making processes.
With the commitment to deliver a deeper understanding of the consumer to bring successful products to market, Curion launched a nationwide pulse survey on how this pandemic has affected consumers purchasing behaviors. Curion presented their result findings in a series of streamed webinars. The first Consumer Pulse webinar streamed April 22, outlining the results of consumers during the first 30 days of quarantine. On May 20, a second Consumer Pulse webinar presented findings after 60-days quarantine. The data generated by the 30-day and 60-day checkpoints are the beginning of Curion’s journey to document and understand consumers’ post-COVID behavior. Of those 800 consumers surveyed by Curion, 93% shared that they would be willing to come into Curion’s facilities to participate in testing in the following month of June. Though much more is to come, the following insights from the 30 and 60-day studies illuminate some of the changes and shifts we’ve all felt forming around us.
Consumer’s emotional state and priorities shift from survival to entertainment
Consumer behavior in the first thirty days of quarantine revolved around enforcing feelings of safety and stability increasing activities such as cleaning, consumers reported in the 60-day study they were spending more time exploring how to use their free time and we looked for correlations.
In the 30-day survey, consumers reported a
While we expected many of these to remain similar, the theory that habits take two months was highlighted in the differences we saw from our 60-day study where consumers show signs of embracing their extra time.
Of the 70% of consumers reporting having extra free time, consumers reported
While purchasing is on the rise; but shifting from the safety ‘need-to-haves’, toward the daily routine ‘nice-to-haves’, is seen in the data collected. In both studies, sales of grocery, household, and cleaning products increased while personal care sales decreased. While this aligns with our 30 day study where 39% of consumers stated they are spending less time on personal care, there is a change in the 60 day study that showed 53% of consumers spending more time on personal care.
The types of foods consumers purchased varied between studies. In the 30-day study, consumers reported placing priority on canned goods (+37%), fresh vegetables (+35%), beverages, and fresh fruit (+34%), while sales of snack foods decreased by 45%. Consumers reported their purchasing decisions were driven by the desire to feel safe and protected (50%), comforted (35%), and replenished (31%) and avoided products that made them feel indulged (33%) and pampered (40%). A month later, we see these priorities shift to align with the increase in consumer interest in leisurely activities and entertainment. While fresh veggies and fruit remain top purchases in the 60-day study, snack purchases increase by 52% and alcohol sales by 41%. The motivation behind consumers’ decision making also shifts -- purchases made to feel safe and protected decreases from 50% to 34% and consumers begin to make more purchases for enjoyment (31% increase), indulgence (+26%), and feeling pampered (+24%).
Consumers are placing more importance on price
Unsurprisingly, considering the level of perceived danger is lower yet 1 in 3 people are still unemployed, product cost has become a pivotal factor in consumer decision making. In the 30-day study, product availability and supply created limitations causing consumers to place less of a priority on price. Consumers were split on how important price was to their buying decision. In the 60-day study, however, price becomes a core decision-maker. 52% of consumers indicate the price is more important, and only 12% report it’s less important.
Consumers mostly at the grocery store and it’s not a pleasant experience
45% of consumers responded to the 30-day study that they have decreased their shopping at all retail stores. These numbers are much higher for the older generation, however, with a 57% decrease for consumers 35-65+ shopping in mass merchandisers, a decrease of 54% of shopping in convenience stores, and a decrease of 51% in big-box retailers. In the 60-day survey, 65% of consumers indicated they do not look forward to going to the grocery store. 84% of consumers reported that they are not finding their usual products or brands. One consumer states, “Going shopping now is all about speed and limiting contact. I buy more now in one trip. The biggest surprise would be the whole experience and how negative it is.”
Consumers continue to discover and adapt -- but generation does play a part in how much they embrace change
In the 30-day study, 74% of consumers are trying new products, 45% are paying more attention to the products and brands they are buying, and 52% report they will continue to use these products after this period of time is over. The 60-day consumer study displays an increase in the percentage of consumers paying attention to the brands they are purchasing (52% from %45) and in the number of consumers who say they will continue to use the products (57% from 52%). While Gen Z and millennials are willingly trying new products, the 60-day study demonstrates boomers typically do so out of necessity rather than pleasure. 48% of Gen Z and millennials consumers reported they would try a new product just to try something new, while only 27% of boomers agree. Similarly, 39% of Gen Z and millennials consumers reported they would change products simply out of boredom, while 16% of boomers answered they would do the same.
What newly found alternatives will stick? Curion will continue to monitor and track consumers’ shifts in behavior during this tumultuous time to provide the most up-to-date and relevant insights. As this study suggests, consumer decision-making factors shift rapidly, especially throughout times of extreme change. Curion looks forward to walking through this time beside our partners and clients and help deliver products consumers want and need.
The School of Hospitality Leadership is now ready to launch their fully-online MBA Program in Hospitality Leadership (https://go.depaul.edu/MBAHospitality).
Benefits of this new program include:
Over the next month, DePaul will be holding a number of virtual information sessions to promote the program for our first cohort in Fall 2020. Please contact Kat Fraser (email@example.com) in the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business for any questions.
Come meet, interact and network online with more than 1,300 VCs, Corporate VCs, angel investors, industry execs and founders of venture backed, emerging and early stage companies at the prestigious Venture Summit Virtual Connect | Global being held virtually on August 4th – 6th 2020.
Whether you’re a startup seeking capital and exposure, or an investor seeking new deals, Venture Summit Virtual Connect | Global presented by youngStartup Ventures - is the event of the year you won't want to miss.
A highly productive venture conference, Venture Summit Virtual Connect | Global is dedicated to showcasing VCs, Corporate VCs and angel investors committed to funding venture backed, emerging and early stage Foodtech companies.
ChicagoLand Food & Beverage Network has made special arrangement for our network to receive a special discount of 20% off the existing “early bird" savings. This conference will be attended by the best people in the industry. Please register early to avoid disappointment.Special Offer:
ChicagoLand Food & Beverage Network has made special arrangement for our network to receive a special discount of 20% off the existing “early bird" savings. This conference will be attended by the best people in the industry. Please register early to avoid disappointment.
Register Today & Save Click here. (Use promo code "CHICAGOLANDVIP”)
In addition to providing access to leading Investors, the conference will feature more than 100 pre-screened venture backed, emerging and early stage companies seeking capital, and hardcore networking.
"Miriam Ueberall recently joined The Kraft Heinz Company to head up research and development for the group’s international zone. FoodNavigator speaks to her about how innovation and product development is at the heart of Kraft Heinz’s turnaround plans."
Read more here.
"Marfrig and ADM today announced an agreement to create PlantPlus Foods, a joint venture for the sale of plant-based food products across South American and North American markets.
Marfrig, one of the world’s leading beef producers and the world’s largest beef patty producer, and ADM, a leading global nutrition company, already have a successful history working together to develop and produce sustainable, plant-based foods in South America. Now, PlantPlus Foods will expand on that successful relationship."
As a food manufacturer, McCain is driven by good people, making good food, from good ingredients – and the result is food that makes people feel good. But it’s not just about the food that they make, it’s about how they conduct theirselves in every aspect of their business. From farmer and customer relationships to sustainable agricultural processes – they strive to make every element of their business good. This philosophy underpins everything they do.
Check out this deck to learn about how McCain is supporting the community - globally - with food donations.
It has been an intense week in Chicagoland and around the country. This is a critical juncture for all of us to do what is right and embrace our common humanity. The protests this weekend remind us that:
We must hear, respect, and act on the pleas of protesters for the justice of George Floyd and so many others.
We must do more than acknowledge that racism exists, we must actively pursue and advocate for a more equitable and just society.
We must all hold ourselves and those around us accountable for a higher standard of daily behavior and overall justice.
We need to fight against the division, racism and bigotry that continues in this country.
We must remember #GeorgeFloyd and make this the point at which we decided that this injustice must STOP!
As an industry, it’s easier to shrug and wait for others to act. It’s easier to focus on your business, and do nothing. But Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network was founded three years ago based on creating a network to drive inclusion and economic growth in our region and in our communities. And we will double down on doing just that.
With all that 2020 has brought us in terms of challenges, NOW IS THE TIME for you and your companies to be engaged and to make a difference
Now is the time to do something that supports communities across Chicagoland, makes the world better, and helps ensure justice.
- Alan Reed
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
1 W Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel (312) 525-9653